— ABC News (@ABC) July 31, 2016
On Sunday morning, Donald Trump told the ABC News audience that Russian President Vladimir Putin would never go into Ukraine. Did he punctuate that sentiment with a “you can mark it down?” Yes, he did. Can you mark down that Crimea was brought up in response? Yes, you can.
The Republican nominee’s comments on This Week with George Stephanopoulos is raising quite a few eyebrows over Trump’s take on Russia and Ukraine, especially for those who already question his understanding of foreign policy. Trump was asked why he softened the GOP platform on Ukraine, and the business titan responded that he was not involved in doing so. The host noted that Trump’s people were involved, which generated a response from Trump saying he’ll have “to take a look at it.”
That set the stage for this fascinating exchange:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They took away the part of the platform calling for provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Why is that a good idea?
DONALD TRUMP: It’s ― look, you know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want …
If this exchange sent off alarm bells that Trump might not be familiar with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, you’re not alone. Stephanopoulos found himself pointing out that Kremlin-backed forces have already made their presence felt in the country.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?
DONALD TRUMP: OK― well, he’s there in a certain way. But I’m not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he’s going away. He take ― takes Crimea.
Trump also noted that “the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.” If a potential Trump administration were to recognize Putin’s seizure of Crimea, it would be a stance not shared by a large number of UN countries. Mind you, Trump’s approach to foreign policy hasn’t always synced up with the international community, and questions like these are sure to continue throughout general election season.